Immersive Gifts

Craft Materials at Minnetonka Center for Arts
Holiday presents that focus on experiences, instead of stuff.

No one needs another pair of socks, a generic coffee mug or the latest pop-nonfiction bestseller to clutter up the closet (or the bookshelf, or the kitchen counter … you get my drift). To help fight our modern American addiction to stuff, many families are opting to forego the gift boxes this holiday season in favor of gifts you can fully experience: time to spend together (or by yourself), and learn or see something new. Try one of these local options to give your giftee a memory they’ll hold onto forever—no attic space required.


If you’ve got a creative maker on your list or someone who might be inspired to try their hand at something new, how about an art class at the Minnetonka Center for the Arts? MCFTA is a beloved gem, and hosts classes for everyone from novices to professional artists. Your gift recipient can try anything from pottery to painting to jewelry-making. Grab two spots for a couple’s gift, or encourage your person to use the experience as a way to meet some new neighbors. Call or go online for class schedules, pricing and other details.

Minnetonka Center for the Arts
2240 North Shore Drive, Wayzata


Even your surly teenager won’t be able to help having fun at Minnetonka’s Big Thrill Factory. And even though this venue, focused totally on play, is perfect for kids, it’s also a great place for a grown-ups’ night out. There’s bowling, arcade games, mini golf, trampolines, laser tag, go karts and plenty of other delights. Make a day of it, too, with classic treats like pizza, burgers, ice cream, soda and beer. Try this experiential gift for a group of out-of-town relatives or even the office holiday party.

Big Thrill Factory
17585 Highway 7, Minnetonka


Has your loved one dreamed of seeing Lake Minnetonka from high above? Maybe you have a giftee on your list who’s been harboring a childhood Top Gun fantasy. Wannabe pilots and lake-lovers alike will be over the moon about a Twin Cities scenic plane tour from aboard a Piper Archer. The tour includes views of Lake Minnetonka, downtown Minneapolis, the capitol and maybe even your neighborhood. All flights are led by an FAA-certified pilot.

Cloud 9 Living
Flights out of Flying Cloud Airport,
Eden Prairie; 866.525.6839


Perhaps one of the most timeless experiential gifts is a cooking class. This one can be perfect for practical folks—like your recent college grad who’s moving into their own apartment—or for seasoned cooks who want to polish their skills or expand their repertoire. Ridgedale’s Williams Sonoma location hosts a variety of classes throughout the year on topics like weeknight dinners in an Instant Pot, kids’ cookies and cupcakes, knife skills, fresh pasta and others. For an up-to-date schedule and registration details, call the store.

Williams Sonoma
12251 Wayzata Blvd., Minnetonka